D.C. Council passes resolution to protect women’s health care coverage

The D.C. Council unanimously approved resolutions Tuesday securing residents’ access to women’s health care services in the District.

All 13 Council members co-introduced the temporary and emergency resolutions that called for a freeze on all federal regulations and to cover women’s preventive health care services under the Affordable Care Act. The temporary resolution will expire in 225 days, but a permanent version of the bill will be under Council review, according to the Council’s website.

Under the resolutions, access to preventative health care measures like cancer screenings and sexually transmitted infection testing would continue to be covered under Medicaid and the DC Healthcare Alliance program that provides health aid for low-income residents.

The bills would prevent any additional cost sharing requirements, limiting how much medical bills are paid through insurance and out of pocket, Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen said.

Allen presented the resolutions before the Council to prepare for the possibility that President Donald Trump’s administration is successful in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. The resolutions’ goal is to maintain women’s health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, even if it is replaced.

“Losing the ACA’s protections for affordable health care would have deadly consequences for District women,” Allen said.

Allen said these bills follow in the footsteps of similar legislation in 28 other states to protect preventive services like contraception, including Maryland.

Allen added that Congress needed to not interfere with the District’s health care.

“We cannot let Congress reverse the successes we are achieving in health outcomes for District women because we still have a lot of work to do,” Allen said.

Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray said the American Health Care Act, a Republican bill in the House of Representatives that failed to reach a vote last month, would have lost many residents coverage and slashed programs like Medicaid. Gray said it is imperative to safeguard the protections the District feels strongly about.

“We can certainly expect this Congress located to our east, and the Trump administration located to our west, to make yet another attempt at dismantling the protections that our residents need in order to be able to thrive and survive through this current budget process,” Gray said.

Gray added that the women’s health care services are important to him and mentioned a time when he got arrested as an act of civil disobedience protesting for women’s access to services.

“Some may remember I was arrested as an act of civil disobedience protesting District of Columbia abortion access being used as a bargaining chip to strike a federal budget deal,” Gray said. “Now we of course are faced with the potential of an even greater threat to health care services in the District.”

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